Voter Engagement in the UK
The report by the British House of Commons states that voter turnout at elections (parliamentary, local and European parliamentary elections), and the percentage of people that are correctly registered to vote, has declined substantially in recent decades.
It states that: 'Democracy is working less well than it used to and we need to move swiftly to pre-empt a crisis.'
The report examines the reasons for the situation through evidence from members of the public, the Electoral Commission, the Minister for the Constitution, think tanks, campaign and community groups and others.
Some of the reasons for the problem, as stated by the report, include: the centralisation of party activity leading to perceptions of a lack of local representation, negative media stories about politics and politicians, and perceptions that voting will not change the status quo.
It recommends various measures, including clarifying the legal requirements to register to vote, campaigns to encourage particular groups to register (young people, non-Anglo citizens, disabled citizens among others), an investigation into the feasibility of online voting, and more education in schools.
The report warns that 'substantial cultural and structural changes are necessary to convince the public that registering to vote and participating at ... elections is worthwhile'.
Thumbnail image: Members of the public outside the seat of British power, 10 Downing Street London. Credit: David Dixon. (This image has been cropped)